3 Month Recap

The clock has spun away 3 1/2 months since our family touched down in Costa Rica.  Over Thanksgiving we were grateful for these highlights:

Our house in Nebraska sold in October.  Hallelujah and Amen.  Huge thanks go out to the crew of folks who made that process such a blessing to our family.

I learned that laundry washes up much faster when the anemic water line to the machine is fortified with basins-full of water from the nearby sink.  The kids and I keep the faster faucet running full speed and make it a water-and-bowl game of leapfrog.

A full pound of yeast went into our first two months of homemade bread and rolls.  We go through about 6 loaves a week.  Low-carb and gluten-free we are not.  Bread is sold here, but the limited whole grain options are expensive and not as tasty as what I make.  Baking is a labor of love that saves us dinero.

We celebrated our 15th Wedding Anniversary.  Our unofficial date was a fun trip to the local mall for a bite to eat and a salad spinner.  Our official date took us up into the mountains for a romantic meal.  That night went down in the “forever” storybook of our family because the speedy/winding cab ride made Kris so carsick she was trembling, the shrimp special was terrible, and the cheesecake we ordered to make up for it was even worse.  Our naive belief that cream cheese makes everything good has been lost forever.  But now we have something to laugh about for the next 15 years, and we are extra grateful for the salad spinner.

Wisdom gained: Homesickness and an extra-large bag of Riesens cannot coexist for long.

At the end of our first 90 days, we had to make a visa-renewal trip to Nicaragua.  Motion sickness meds and toilet paper are required packing for the 6-8 hour bus ride.  And give each person a Ziploc just in case.  Trust us on this, we learned the hard way.  In spite of the rough passage, the required 72 hours out of Costa Rica were glorious.  See the pictures below.

Our residency application process is coming along nicely.  All of our documents are filed with the government, and we got our fingers inky at the police station.  Answering questions and joking with the officers in Spanish was good language practice.  We hope all of our visits to government agencies here in the future will go just as smoothly.

Less than 2 weeks remain of our first trimester of language school.  Brains are bogged down with grammar rules and verb conjugations.  Our first family-wide Christmas break will be a huge treat, topped off with a visit from Matt’s parents.  They fly in on Christmas Day.  Like Santa Claus, but with a frozen ham instead of reindeer.

While there is a lot of hard work for us in this season, there is also a great deal of joy. We get to do life and share history with the incredible missionaries learning alongside us.  We can crack chistes (jokes) with our teachers in two languages as we study our way from knowledge to fluency.  And we can see the doorways opening into cross-cultural relationships and opportunities to expand the kingdom.

We are beyond thankful for this season of language learning and the way that the Lord is using it to grow us up into His calling for our family.  The rains may come from time to time, but the view from here can be breathtaking.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20

What Love Looks Like

Sometimes love looks like an abandoned child nestled in your arms, or a mission team hearing the Lord’s voice in a new timbre.  Sometimes love looks like a list of conjugated verbs and definite articles to help bridge the gap between hearts.  Our family is on the ascent to those vistas, but our first 10 days here in Costa Rica were colored by some of love’s other hues: lots of elbow grease applied to clean spaces and organize our things, a heavy duty extension cord delivered in the rain after some of the house’s wiring self-destructed, meals from scratch, and laughter with new friends.  Click on a photo in the gallery below to take a tour of our Tico beginning.

Fairy Slippers Along the Way

I spotted it just off the trail by chance, and did a double take.  It was one of those things in my wildflower book so unusual that you remember its name.  Fairy Slipper.  I forget many of the yellow blossoms cheerfully dotting the path, but no grown up pretend-princess could forget a name like that.  I made the most of the moment and photographed the floral gem in all of its 4″ inches of root-to-tip glory.  We looked around for more, but came up empty.  Usually when you see one flower of a kind, more are sure to follow as you trek through the micro-climate on the slope.  This was a single, unique blessing.  When I got down the mountain, my book told me just how privileged I was to have seen one.

“Fairy Slipper is a very rare wildflower… in fact its endangered. One could look for years and never find this fascinating Orchid.”–DenverPlant.com 

Fairy SlipperIt’s the same way with our launch to serve at the Home of Life in Costa Rica.  As we are climbing the mountain of tasks that will move us from our home in the prairie to serving in a new country/culture/language, we have been a part of some incredible moments of blessing.  Loving words from the Lord delivered to us after worship.  Prayer ministry that lightens heaviness into peace.  Coming out of the bathroom stall at the movie theater to meet an old acquaintance who stopped right there between stall and sink to speak provision and grace over me.  Extravagant gifts of support and affection.  Our church’s homeschool community circling up around us in anointed prayer, doing battle on behalf of our family.  Each one is unique.  Each one a special encouragement.  We could look for years and never find more exactly like them.  The Lord is decorating this trek with different glimpses of His magnificent presence through the kindness of His people around us.  And when we get off of this mountain, I will already know just how privileged we have been.

Lessons Learned on Vacation

A few weeks ago my in-laws asked to have our children for the week.  Their church was geared up for VBS, and they wanted some hang time with the 3-E’s.  Matt and I booked a camping spot in Rocky Mountain National Park faster than you can say “mommy-daddy-time.”  He proposed to me up there, and it’s been our getaway of choice over the years since then.  We love trekking the mountain trails, listening to the breeze whisper through the trees, and enjoying the views so different from life here on the prairie (and mostly within a city on that prairie).  Then there’s just the break from home routine and glorious mountain quiet (absence of all kid-generated requests).  Thinking back, we realized there have been a lot of changes in the way we do vacation over the years.  Here are some of the fun points of evolution.

  • Sunset RoadFork over the gas money and drive on.   We used to tent camp, stuffing the car until our gear sometimes obstructed the view out of the rear window.  We loved it.  Mountain nights can be chilly, though.  I learned to change inside a sleeping bag and to wear a stocking cap to bed when necessary.  A few years back, Matt’s parents offered to lend us the RV they had scored off of Craigslist.  At 8 miles to the gallon, it was a splurge.  But rainy weather can take the fun out of a tenting trip, so we gave it a go.  Best decision ever.  Bathroom, refrigerator, and microwave less than 10 feet away made for a happy 10 hour drive each way.  Pulling into our camping spot meant we could hit the sack without maneuvering tent poles, air pumps, or flashlights.  And when the raindrops danced our way, we could go on enjoying the day inside.  I like the simple, inexpensive way we do vacation, but a little bit of luxury has made the time away an even bigger blessing.
  • Mountain ManSimplify.  Once upon a time we brought fresh potatoes, raw bacon, peeler, knife, and cutting board when we wanted to make a potato skillet on vacation.  We ate off of real dishes, too, and spent way too much time scrubbing and drying at the camp sink.  Now we cook ingredients or even whole entrees ahead of time and eat off of disposables.  We can be green and cook from scratch when we’re at home, but we can’t make the gorgeous ascent to Sky Pond.  We’ve learned to use our time away for the important things.  Naps, for example.
  • Let Matt buy the provisions.  This year I was swamped and Matt took care of almost everything needed to get us on the road.  Beef jerky, trail mix, string cheese, Stax, supplies for mini bagel/cream cheese/salami sandwiches, Starburst, Riesens, all our usual bases well-covered.   He upped the ante with a carton each of raspberries and bing cherries.   When I saw the 15-count box of Häagen-Dazs bars, I remembered all the reasons that I fell in love with him in the first place.  And the working freezer compartment in the RV meant that we didn’t have to eat them all the first day.  Which was probably for the best.
  • Mallard NappingSlow down.  Our first trips to the Rockies were races to see if we could total more miles of trail and feet of elevation gain than the last visit.  We still like to be off the mountain before the afternoon rain clouds approach, but we’ve done a better job lately of simply enjoying the land we pass through.    Learning to take macro photos of wildflowers probably started it.  Now each hike is a treasure hunt for new blossoms.  Upgrading from a point and shoot to a dslr camera  has definitely increased the effect.  Poor Matt has his stride interrupted regularly with “Oooh, I have to shoot this.”  He’s a good man, y’all.

In honor of our time away, I have updated the “Latest News and Views” slideshow on our homepage.  Please stop by, or click <here> to see some of the other sights we saw.